Thursday, July 10, 2008
Books: We've got belle lettres comin' out the wazoo.
Fellow LoTT-D member and Lawng Islinder Vince Liaguno, of Slasher Speak fame, has posted a link to a neato article by long-time ANTSS fave: the lovely and talented Sarah Langan (shown above). Langan is the author of The Keeper and The Missing. The title of her essay, though less darkly evocative than her novel titles, has the advantage of being extremely straightforward: "Why I Write Horror".
Here's some highlights.
Langan on her adoring public:
Since I began publishing fiction, a pattern has emerged. I'm asked one question above all others, and it happens at readings, at NYU where I go to school for Environmental Science, and when I visit my boyfriend's family in Maryland. Friends and strangers alike narrow their eyes when they learn what my book is about. They wonder if I'm playing a practical joke. Then they ask: Why do you write horror? What they really mean is: Are you mental or something?
Some find my subject matter titillating, but not for the reasons I'd like. I once dated a man who was disappointed to discover that my apartment wasn't filled with candles and S&M sex toys. I was a horror writer, after all; wasn't I supposed to be kinky? And if I wasn't kinky, then why was I slumming in a genre scaffolded by the appetites of freaks?
My first novel was recently published. For a long time I wasn't able to sell it. During those years that I was papering my walls with rejection slips, I was young, single, a graduate of Columbia University's M.F.A. program, and living in New York. Back then, everybody wanted to be the next Candace Bushnell or Melissa Bank. Agents I queried, when they were kind enough to reply, asked: Why are you writing this stuff? Do you have anything satiric or quirky, about dating?
Langan on the use of monsters:
When it works, horror gets as close to the veins of our emotions as any piece of literature is able. The monsters do not exist to frighten us, but to soothe us. Their existence reassures us that we are reading fiction. We've got a lifeline, in case the characters with which we are identifying drag us too far into uncomfortable emotional terrain. Our characters' screams are our own screams, but when we are done, we can relax, because none of it was real, right? Except, we can't stop thinking about the friends we met in those books. We hope that long after the stories ended, they lived happy lives. We hope they are okay. We hope we're okay, too.
As can be expected from Langan, it is good and thoughtful stuff.
But, wait! There's more!
Langan isn't the only person 'round here with the literary skills that pay the bills. Nosiree Bob! ANTSS is in the near-epileptic throws of a literary contest of titanic, nay, cataclysmic, nay, really big proportions! For those not in the know, get with the program by reading yesterday's post.
Now we've already got a couple of posts in, including one from lovely and talented Absinthe, the blogger extraordinaire behind Gloomy Sunday (see sidebar), that is too good to keep to myself (even though it technically isn't a limerick).
Screamers and Screamettes, I present Absinthe's positively Horacean "Ode to Dawn of the Dead."
I once knew a girl named Fran
She got knocked up one day and then ran
Then the dead came to life
Oh the horror and the strife
And away they went to the shopping center
where they set up house and were much better
Killing zombies with ease by the twos and the threes
Just as cool as you please
Then Roger who had tagged on for the ride - oh my he forgot his bag
Got stuck in the truck with a zombie bad luck
Bitten in the leg
He then had to beg
Please don't resist if I should happen to persist
Just shoot me and be done
Then go and have some fun
And then did the deed
Then the bikers appeared
And did exactly what they all feared
They ran amok and had very good luck
Stephen got shot right on the spot
Then forgot about the masses of rot
And quickly became zombie chow
Right there in the elevator - wow!
Fran and Peter alone, now on their own, knew that they were prone
So away did they fly so they would not die, waving bye in the sky so high
Onwards they go - where we don't know
Hopefully to some place better
Where they will not fetter
And maybe one day will get a red setter
Two words, my friends: Awe. Some.
Don't be left out of this literary revolution! The contest ends next Wednesday, folks. Chop chop! These limericks ain't going to write themselves!